Developing Patient Reported Outcome Measures to assist services to meet the priorities of older people with severe frailty; using mixed methods - The PRO-Frail study

Older people with severe frailty will be the main users of palliative care in the coming decades- how their experience at end of life is currently poor; this PHD will review and collect evidence to develop /adapt a Patient reported Outcome measure for elders with severe frailty.

Start date
1 October 2021
36 months
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information
  • Full tuition fee waiver 
  • £15,285 per annum stipend 
  • £1,000 per annum Research Training Support Grant 



A good understanding of PROs (Patient Reported Outcomes i.e. patient perceptions of their experiences and health) is central to providing person-centred care. To improve care for older people living in the community with severe frailty, we need to know how best to collect and use PROs. Presently, the quality of life for many frail elders in their final years is poor, and they experience unwanted interventions. 

This doctorate undertakes: 

  1. A comprehensive evidence review of end-of-life PRO Measures (PROMs) 
  2. Mapping of needs assessed using PROMs and those reported by frail elders, to identify gaps and areas for development; 
  3. Staff focus groups to explore experience of assessing and meeting patient priorities, including use of PROMs; 
  4. A synthesis of findings from stages (ii) and (iii) to inform development/or adaptation of a PROM for this population; 

(vi)Initial exploratory testing of the acceptability and feasibility of the resulting Prototype PROM for severely frail elders. 


Professor Caroline Nicholson- First Supervisor – Has expertise in complex intervention development and participatory methods to identify the priorities and develop interventions to improve wellbeing of older adults with severe frailty. The PRO-Frail study will sit within her current HEE/NIHR Senior Clinical Academic Lectureship funded study. 

Dr Jenny Harris- Second supervisor was appointed as Lecturer in Cancer Care at Surrey in August 2019. Jenny has a long-standing interest in supportive care research and expertise in questionnaire/measurement design methods, having previously worked at the National Centre for Social Research on their quantitative health survey programme. 

Dr Richard Green- Third Supervisor (ECR) was appointed as a Research Fellow at Surrey in May 2020 working with Professor Nicholson. His background is in medical sociology. 

Partner organisations  

St Christopher’s Hospice to ensure research has clinical applicability and link into on-going learning from practice.

Related links
Funding information PALLUP study High-quality end of life care will enable older people with frailty to live wel…

Eligibility criteria

Applicants are expected to hold a good honours degree (upper second) in an appropriate discipline, but prior experience in research or health and social care may be acceptable. 

This studentship is only available to UK students. 

IELTS requirements: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6 in each individual category.   

How to apply

Applications must be submitted via the Health Sciences PhD programme page.

Please submit copies of educational qualifications, your CV and a research proposal for this project of up to 5 pages including the following sections: rationale, research question and objectives, study design and methodology. 

Application deadline

Contact details

Caroline Nicholson
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683511

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